The wound is not your fault, but the healing is your responsibility.
The title of this blog is a pretty bold statement. I’ve heard people say that this statement is often polarizing, triggering, and unfair. Love it or hate it, it is a concept that has impacted my own life in a major way. I remember first being introduced to the idea when I started my own road of recovery from an eating disorder many moons ago. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and to be honest, I hated it at first, too.
I think the main reason I couldn’t swallow the message is that I had always internally defined responsibility as some kind of task or chore I had been assigned. Because of the way I had heard people use the word in the past, responsibility felt like a heavy weight to carry. It was a word I had heard used to shame people into getting more done, as well as one that had been dangled over my head in a list of edicts that existed in a world that often felt very preachy and righteous to me.
It can feel particularly shameful to talk about responsibility in direct correlation to our emotions.
Emotions aren’t something we can control. Emotions are sensations that are experienced in the body, and our brain (the frontal lobe to be exact) can’t stop this from happening no matter how hard we “try.” Applying any sort of accountability to the emotions we do or do not feel seems rather ridiculous. Needless to say, responsibility was not something that I felt had a rightful place in the world of emotional healing. Then, one day, responsibility was broken down for me in a different way, and everything changed.
I wish I could remember where I first came across this reframe, for which I would give the source all the credit in the world. All I recall is that, somewhere along the way, someone broke the word down into two succinct parts for me, and all of a sudden: The lightbulb went on.
Response and ability. The ability to respond.
Pretty simple, eh? (I am not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before, to be honest.)
Our ability to respond, to decide what we want to do and how to do it once we have suffered, is truly the seat of our power in life. We cannot control the suffering itself, but we can respond accordingly and seek out our own healing. Our responsibility is not a condemnation; it is a gift.
Read: “Our Bodies Can Talk: Decoding Our ‘Body Language‘” for ideas on starting to seek out your own healing.
Obstacles that Stand in Healing’s Way
So why do so many people struggle with the response; why do so many people never seem to heal? And what about the people who can’t find their way to the healing? Are they just “screwed,” so to speak?
There are innumerable reasons why people do not heal. I could not begin to cover all of the varied reasons in a single blog post, but I’ll get you started. Consider the following obstacles:
• Trauma in the body literally blocks people from taking action, freezing them in a state of paralyzation or detachment.
•Being able to access healing modalities is a privilege that many cannot access, but this assistance is truly necessary to heal.
• Most cultures demean seeking help and ostracize people who admit that they need it.
• There is a tremendous lack of education around emotional trauma and what it even is, preventing people from knowing that there is a problem to solve in the first place. Their internal experience is ignore or normalized, and they just think that their pain is something to be endured alone.
The Road to Healing
Victor Frankl , one of my favorite existential psychotherapists and an all-around amazing human, has a series of insights that impact the way I have shaped my therapy practice and my life itself, and I’ve noted these below. His words inspire me as I think about how to do my part in helping a world that is truly suffering on both macro and micro levels.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
This is why I became a therapist and why I spend my life trying to help people in their own journey of healing. It is also why I am so excited about my latest project, The Inner Alchemy Podcast, dedicated to helping people find their way to whatever form of healing is right for them.
In this podcast, I am introducing people to some of my favorite humans and helpers from all over the country who bring their own special magic to the world of healing. The goal is to shed light on many of the wondrous ways we can emotionally heal. There is no one size fits all to healing, and it’s important people get access to the emotional, mental, and spiritual healing tools that they need, unique to their own experiences. We all heal differently, and there are so many resources out there. It’s time we bring this knowledge to the world.
If you struggle to know how to respond, and don’t know where to start, I invite you to check out the podcast and see if any of the episodes speak to you. Keep an open mind. See which guest you are drawn to, and follow them on social media for further insights. Pay attention to which topics pique your interest, even if you might find yourself skeptical at first. Whatever you do, don’t stop being curious about your mental health and healing. You can heal, not matter what you are struggling with. You can change the narrative of your life. In fact, it’s your responsibility to do so.
If you’re ready to take on your responsibility, grab your free balancing tool as a great way to continue being curious in your healing journey.
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